London, 2016

July 25, 2017

Posted: August 3, 2016, 4:34pm

It’s been a terribly long time since I’ve last written. One of the reasons for that is my travel schedule. I’ve been gone most of July so far, which is awesome if you love to travel (which I do!). I spent the first half of July in the UK and the second half in Ohio with my family. I wanted to write a few updates about the research conference I attended in England at the University of Nottingham and some lessons learned.

The conference was called the European Conference for Math and Theoretical Biology. Considering my PhD research is building math models of tumor progression and metastasis, it is a perfect conference to attend. There were 840 people representing 40 different countries (mostly European countries). Of those hundreds of researchers, about 50 or 60 were specifically focusing on cancer research, like myself. Even more niche, there is another few research groups studying cancer using game theoretic models, and I was very excited to meet and network these groups.

Choosing a conference is tricky. A lot of exciting research done these days involves very interdisciplinary fields of science. My field is at the intersection of math, computer science, and cancer biology. When I choose a conference to present my math model, I could go to a math conference, where many researchers aren’t studying biological applications, or I might choose to attend a biology conference where the doctors and researchers certainly may lack a fondness for mathematical models. Needless to say, finding a math biology conference is a great choice.

Traveling Alone

I must say, that I was pretty nervous to travel alone. This isn’t the first conference I’ve attended alone, but it was the first time I’ve known certain researchers (the ones who I’ve spent the past four years reading their research) were going to be in attendance. I worked hard to prepare and I’m pleased with the results, but flying solo wasn’t my first choice, as I was the sole representative of my lab group in Nottingham.

Apart from that, I decided to do a layover in London for the weekend and explore. Traveling to this magnificent city was a special privilege, but it takes a lot of confidence to travel alone in a new place, in a new country. Glad they speak English there!

Open Source

One of the interesting take-aways from this conference is the open-source trend of research in the past 5 or 10 years. The conference provided stickers for posters or slides for powerpoint to indicate the speaker’s preference for social media sharing. Many of the audience like to take pictures and share the research to their followers on Twitter or Facebook pages, along with a link to the original published article. A few speakers advertised research blogs and invited guest post writers. I might have to look into some of the evolutionary game theory blogs.

I had the chance to talk to my advisor about these things afterward. He has noticed the trend toward social in research and advised me to continue to market myself and our research online in the ways that I can. During my presentation I think I gained about 15 new Twitter followers, most of them tweeted some interesting points of the talk using the conference hashtag of course! #ECMTB2016

Here’s a picture of the conference program booklet. This will give you a sense of the scale of the event. Those 840 speakers crammed into 5 days made for 11 concurrent sessions. I mostly followed around those same 50 cancer researchers, but it was still a mad scramble for the coffee in between sessions. Science (and scientists!) runs on caffeine.

Stay tuned for the next update on the conference!



Published on July 25th, 2017

Last updated on August 10th, 2017